TRUSTEE ROWENA AKANA
November 2003 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Column
‘Ano`ai kakou… Despite the obstacles that may cause some irritation and delays in the passage of our Hawaiian Recognition Bill (Senate Bill 344), we should all be grateful for the many friends that we have made along the way.
A man of humble beginnings, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada is known as a champion of social causes and has earned the respect and trust of both Democrats and Republicans for his integrity and fairness. Parade Magazine describes him as one of a handful of leaders in Washington who possesses integrity and guts! It goes without saying then, that it is a plus to have Senator Reid sign on to our bill.
In late September, the Trustees of OHA, along with the Royal Societies including Makakakawa, the Royal Order of Kamehameha, the Kaahumanu Society, and Hale o Na Ali’i, traveled to Washington D.C. to speak to members of Congress about the importance of passing the Hawaiian Recognition Bill.
While our trip was interrupted by Mother Nature, with one of the nastiest hurricanes to ever hit the east coast, we did manage to make an impact on those we were able to meet. Our Royal Societies made quite an impression in the halls of Congress and among those they spoke to. Seeing the royal capes and the ceremonial dress worn by our alii was an unforgettable experience for those who witnessed it. To explain to the people on the mainland about who Hawaiians are and what we represent is difficult at best for them to imagine. But to actually see the formal dress and to witness royal ceremonies speaks to volumes of historical insight that cannot be translated into words.
Our trip was cut short in Washington due to the hurricane, but on the way home, some of us stopped in Arizona and Nevada. In Arizona, we met with the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona, which represents 19 local tribes. Our purpose was to solicit their support for our Hawaiian Recognition Bill. Their interest and support were encouraging.
Next stop was a Nevada Hoolaulea sponsored by the Mainland Council of Hawaiian Civic Clubs. The Ho’olaulea was held at Lorenzi Park about 10-minutes from down town Las Vegas and featured nearly 100 craft and food vendors and informational booths. The state of Nevada is now home to over 40,000 Hawaiians and the Hoolaulea drew 10,000 people. OHA was there to register Hawaiians for our Registry Program and to educate attendees about the facts of the Recognition Bill.
OHA’s Hawaiian Registry Program is a very important program. It is the first step in identifying Hawaiians who want to be identified as Hawaiians and who want to be counted as Hawaiians. The Hawaiian Registry Picture ID Card, it is hoped, will one day serve as a card that will offer many services to those who have it.
I would like to say Mahalo Nui Loa to Nevada US Senator Harry Reid who came to the Nevada Hoolaulea to speak to the Hawaiians who were there and to assure them of his support for the Hawaiian Recognition Bill.
Lastly, I would like to say to all who read my column that if you have any questions about whether or not the Akaka Bill is good for Hawaiians, I will be available to you and your groups to explain the facts. Please call my office to set-up a scheduled appointment time for a presentation. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!